Customize Your Canoe

Yokes and Thwarts

Carved yoke

Carved yoke

We offer some nice-looking and quite comfortable carved canoe yokes made of the same wood as the rest of the trim. These yokes, when used in conjunction with a padded PFD, spread the weight over the shoulder area and their springiness acts as a shock absorber as you tread the portage trail. For the naysayers, we offer a more conventional paddled yoke as well.

Missing bow thwart

Missing bow thwart

Finely carved quarter thwarts are standard in all our canoes. Many customers, however, request that the bow quarter thwart be left out in the 16′ models so that they may paddle the canoe backward from the bow seat. We do not feel that merely leaving the thwart out affords sufficient structure to the canoe so we have devised a method using a single piece of wood at the end of each seat to act both as a spacer and a lateral stabilizer.

A brass nameplate and “handle” thwarts, just behind the decks, are standard accouterments. These make a pleasant place to grab the end of the canoe to lift it over a beaver dam or up onto shore.

For canoes to be used on rocky streams, I recommend floor ribs to protect the planking. Floor ribs may be added in the floor of the canoe between the full-length ribs. This offers protection of the planking for river use. It will add a few pounds and is not recommended unless rocky rivers are in your canoe’s future.

Brass stem bands are found on the leading edge of all our canoes as decorative protection from rocks. We can also mount brass painter rings through the stem bands to help in lining the canoe up a difficult passage.

Keels can be added to any of our canoes. Normally the keel is made of Ash and is about 7/8″ deep and the width tapering from 7/8″ at its base to about 1/2″ at the leading edge. Though most of our canoes track well by virtue of their design, a keel will help a canoe track in side winds. At the same time, it will decrease the ease of turning and be a specific hindrance in streams where a keel can catch on rocks. A

Long Deck

Long Deck

keel can always be added later, should it be necessary, though it cannot be removed (since it is screwed through the hull).

Long decks can be fitted to any canoe. These are made of a thin slice of the trim wood that is screwed to arched frames which extend from inwale to inwale. One frame at the inboard end of the deck is carved to be a comfortable place to lift the canoe from and eliminates the need for a “handle” thwart.

Carved yoke: Add $150 to canoe order. 

Padded yoke: Add $75 to canoe order. 

Floor ribs: Add $375 to canoe order.

Painter rings: $50 each.

Keel: Add $125

Long decks: Add $250

Choice of Wood

The standard trim for our canoes is Ash. This is a wonderfully springy wood which is relatively light as hardwoods go. A standard option to consider is Black Cherry. This will add a red tone to your boat. Any other wood can be substituted as a special order to personalize the boat of your dreams. Some choices of woods will not be available for full-length gunwales and a center-piece can be scarph-joined to make up the length and add a decorative look (see the birdseye maple center-piece with walnut in the photos showing the carved yoke above)

For the hull, we normally use select White Cedar as both ribs and planking. If you wish, however, we will substitute Western Red Cedar planking for an additional price.

Cherry trim: Add $125 for solo and $150 for tandem canoe order.

Red Cedar Planking: Add $250 to canoe order.

Lighter Weights

Some people are interested in canoes that are even lighter than our normal fare. Though we have reduced the weight in our standard canoes well below some other builder’s, there is still some opportunity for weight savings. For no additional cost we are now offering any of our canoes covered in Dacron fabric rather than the traditional cotton duck. The Dacron is considerably thinner and consequently lighter than the canvas, though we don’t feel it represents any reduction in abrasion resistance. The fabric we are using is a 3.7 ounce per yard aircraft Dacon. This is covered with a highly flexible filler and paint that offers sufficient UV protection since Dacron is vulnerable to degredation from UV rays. The weight savings in using Dacron versus the canvas with our normal filler is in the range of four to six lbs. depending on the canoe.


Our seats are hardwood framed with woven natural cane. The standard arrangement is for the bow seats to have a sitting area of 10″ by 18″ and the stern seats a seating area of 10″ by 13″. The frames are either White Ash or Black Cherry. In the solo canoes, we normally use a standard bow seat. The solo seats can be mounted flat or canted, to allow kneeling. The solo seats can also be mounted on a wooden track so they are adjustable forward and aft. The bow seats can also be made adjustable. While adjustability does open up a level of comfort it also introduces complexity and I am more and more of the opinion that it best to keep it simple. Rearranging gear or the addition of a water bag can perhaps just as easily affect trim.

Adjustable solo or bow seats: Add $75 to your canoe order

Choice of Color/Paint

Boats can be painted nearly any color. We use a variety of oil-based paints. The standard marine paints found in the Interlux and Pettit lines are very good as are the small custom paints made by Kirby in Massachusettes and Marshall’s Cove in Washington. Epifanes Paint, a quality marine enamel from Holland, offers an exceptional gloss that some prefer. I have some color chips from paints we have used in the past and most of the color choices for these paints can be found online. I should add that I have found the marine grade Rustoleum to have a dark green that I feel is a true “canoe green”, but of course everyone has his or her own opinion. And that’s good.

Canoes can be painted with a contrasting color below the water line or a mix of epoxy/graphite powder can be used below the water line to provide extra protection. This treatment makes the bottom area tougher and more scratch resistant. Add $150 for epoxy/graphite bottom or two-tone paint scheme.

Custom designs can be incorporated into any paint job. Please call to discuss.